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Hounds defenders pitching in on attack

By David Borne, 08/10/19, 2:15PM EDT

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When Kenardo Forbes lines up for a corner kick, he always has one idea in mind for Tobi Adewole.

Get to the near post.

It’s a play the duo has tried to perfect in training all season, and their efforts paid off last Saturday when Adewole headed a ball from Forbes into the back of the net to get his club on the scoreboard.

“We have different plays we work on before practice and before the games,” Adewole said. “That was my run. [Thomas Vancaeyezeele] was able to draw out a couple of defenders, I made the run in behind him, and I just redirected the ball as best as I could and tried to get it on target.”

Adewole’s goal was one of two coming from a defender in last weekend’s win over Memphis 901 FC. Jordan Dover buried a chance later in the contest to notch his tally of the season. 

The boys of the backline not only found their scoring touch last weekend, but continued their string of strong play on the opposite side of the field. The Black and Gold’s defenders completely stumped Memphis’s attack, earning another clean sheet in the win.

The result marked the Hounds’ eighth shutout of the season.

“We’re just taking pride in our defensive work,” Adewole said on the group’s defensive effort. “We know a big part of the game is defense. Defense wins championships. We just have to stay locked down, concentrate, focus and work for each other.”

For fellow defender Ryan James, the defensive excellence seems to be a result of the cohesion the unit in front of the cage has built. 

“It’s just a willingness to move together,” James said. “I think the communication has been good recently and when you’re moving as a team on the field it just makes defending that much easier.”

Over the last few seasons, the Hounds have earned a reputation for having one of the toughest defenses to crack in the Eastern Conference. Opposing teams are well aware of what Pittsburgh’s backs are capable of doing.

Teams have also taken notice to how difficult it is to win a road game at Highmark Stadium. The Black and Gold carry a 6-0-5 record at home in 2019, and haven’t lost a match at Highmark Stadium since last season.

“You can really feel the support from everyone that comes out to the games, and it really motivates you,” James said on the home atmosphere. “It motivates us a team to take pride in when we’re at home and even when you’re on the road.

Especially at home because people come, they pay to watch us play, they want to see us do well and we want to make the city proud.”

Saturday night’s match against the Swope Park Rangers provides the club with another opportunity to gain valuable ground in the standings. For James and his teammates, the game plan is simple.

“It’s like any other game. We’re coming for three points, heads are down, we’re focussed and we’re not going to take anything for granted. We’re going to take the three points that we need.”